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Prof. Jan Crafford started his academic career in 1984 at the University of Pretoria, where he also obtained his PhD in 1990.  As a young researcher, he spent three years on South Africa’s isolated, sub-Antarctic Marion Island, where he conducted pioneering studies on the ecology of sub-Antarctic invertebrates and the functioning of the island’s terrestrial ecosystem. In 1993, he was invited by the University of Cape Town to spend three months on the Antarctic continent as part of an international, multidisciplinary team looking at the short-lived summer bloom of life on isolated rocky outcrops in the Antarctic ice sheet. Prof. Crafford’s work in these unknown and isolated ecosystems is still regularly quoted in the scientific literature. His teaching career started at the University of Venda in 1990, when he was appointed Senior Lecturer in the Department of Zoology. Prof. Crafford resigned in 1997 to become an environmental consultant, producing numerous ecological surveys and impact assessments for clients which included parastatals, government departments and private developers in four different provinces. However, he continued to lecture in ecology and eco-physiology on a part-time basis, and returned full-time in 2007, as an associate professor, to head the Department of Zoology. He became Dean of the School in 2008. His championing of ecology and biodiversity studies culminated in the NRF awarding  Univen a Research Chair in Biodiversity Value and Change in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve during 2012. Prof. Crafford also played a leading role in the successful petitioning of UNESCO to proclaim the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve in 2010, in order to ensure international recognition and protection for the exceptional cultural and biological diversity of the Vhembe region.